Monday, March 25, 2013

The NEK 99% Newport City Community Survey Is Done!

Survey Results: NEK 99% Survey of 200 Current and Recent Newport City Residents When the Survey Was Done: People were surveyed from Fall 2012 to Spring 2013. Most people were surveyed during daytime hours both on week days and weekends. Because of this, the survey may over-represent people not currently working due to retirement or unemployment. (Twenty-five percent of respondents indicated that their “work life could be made easier” simply by “finding a job”, which one would hope over-estimates the rate of unemployment in Newport City.)

Who Was Surveyed: Respondents were overwhelmingly current Newport City residents, but a few Newport City residents who had recently moved filled out the survey. One or 2 Newport Town residents were also included due to misunderstandings. Surveyed individuals ranged from teenagers to senior citizens. Very few people who were approached declined to fill out the survey. Respondents had been in the Northeast Kingdom for one month to over 70 years. Most get information by watching TV. Reminding us that this is a small town, the second way of getting information was word-of-mouth, followed by the newspaper. Under “Other”, 7% listed the internet or web sites as separate from Facebook (29%) or e-mail (26%) as a way to get information. One person listed “wife” as a main source of information. We live in a car culture. 81.5% of respondents travel by car, and 57% either walk when they're not driving or get places exclusively by walking.

Where the Survey Was Done: People were surveyed on the sidewalks in front of the Family Dollar, One Stop, Vista, the Emory Hebard Building and the Municipal Building as they exited from voting in November and March. People were surveyed indoors at two community meals, two indoor tag sales, at NEKCA, at North Country Hospital, Newport Natural Foods, the Woodknot Book Shop, and the Brickhouse. Sixteen students at North Country Union High School filled out the survey with teacher permission.

How the Survey Was Done: People were asked to pick what interested them and to leave items which did not interest them or didn't apply to them blank. They could pick as many items as they wanted. Work related items fall toward the bottom of the list probably because some respondents were unemployed due to retirement, being students, unemployment or disability and the items didn't apply to them.

Clothing Stores on Main Street and Cleaning Up the Lake Are Top Priorities for Those Surveyed

Clothing stores on Main Street, cleaning up the lake and more affordable housing were most on the minds of these Newport City residents, followed by fostering attitudes of valuing all citizens and promoting respect. In public safety, safer streets at night was more of interest than more law enforcement in general. People said access to more nutritious food was a priority, as was a department store on Main Street and free classes to learn new skills. 29.5% of respondents said they would appreciate better wages. Those who indicated how much this would be put values from $8 per hour to $20 per hour. 25% said they would be happy just to find a job.

Every category included a space for “Other”. Under “Making changes in healthcare services” 5.5% listed “Affordable or Cheaper”. In the food category, 3.5% of people wrote in “More Affordable” or “Cheaper” . Providers of human services and mental health services might want to note that 6.5% of people wrote in “niceness, more respect, nicer, less grumpy, more support and attention” under “Making changes in human services” and Making changes in mental health services”.

Possibly just kidding, two people suggested a Victoria's Secret on Main Street. Four mentioned Walmart and three suggested electronics stores or a Gamestop.

NEK 99% Survey: “Other” Responses

Information: Internet (14), wife, Tumblr. Work: more hours (2), less stress, be self-employed, personal days paid, gratitude for work. Healthcare Services: More affordable (11), healthier food, single payer, treat pain, universal access (3), non-profit, better record keeping, see MD intead of PA, teeth and glasses covered (2), better record-keeping, less filling out forms, alternative medicine (2). Human and Mental Health Services: mental health client-based not diagnosis based, less enabling, work to earn support, dignity not stigma, help people get off services (2), less welfare, human services in town, central location, beds for more mental health patients, more one-on-one mental health, monitor mental health medications, more access for elderly to services, Jesus, respect to mentally needy, nicer (4), more respect (3), niceness (3), more understanding (2), treat clients better, more support and attention, affordable, suicide [prevention?] help, better communication. Food: More affordable or cheaper (7), vegan/vegetarian options, better quality. Stores on Main Street: Outdoor recreation, electronics (2), Gamestop, Victoria's Secret (2), American Eagle, a motel, TJ Maxx, book stores, 5-10 stores, Walmart (4), mix of stores, fabric, coffee shops, natural food stores.
Making Community Life Better: Close off Main St., better parades, keeping things clean and nice, more access to lake, NEKCA more helpful, activities for special needs kids. Housing: tenant responsibility (3), good condition, less welfare, better quality, housing for homeless.
Attitudes: Following through with plans, get to know neighbors, smiling, improve teenagers, help neighbors, stop seeing differences as enemies, better attitudes through education. Safety: Police taking respectable citizens at their word and not treating like criminals, getting the bums off the street, no bars, no druggies, no loitering, jailing drug dealers for 20 years, better law enforcement officers, less law enforcement (2), love your neighbor, more education funding, curfew (2), more accountability (2), more police foot patrol.

Friday, March 22, 2013

"Money as Debt" Thursday March 28 at 6 PM

“Money as Debt” An animated documentary from Paul Grignon. Everything you always wanted to know about our monetary system but didn't think to ask. Thursday March 28 at 6 PM, State Conference Room, 2nd floor, Hebard Building, 100 Main St. Newport. Presented by NEK 99%. FREE.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013


EDUCATION So in the modern technological age, why is education still stuck in the old, expensive models? Why do we transport students, not lectures via internet? Why do we have students live on a campus at a high cost, both to the environment and the students’ families. Why can’t we let them tele-commute? Why do we pay professors to set up their offices on a campus, teach a class or two and write their books or perform research. With the access to the internet, professors could compete to prepare the best courses, the best lectures, the best teaching models and sell them to users at any university. The cost of paying lecturers and professors would be transferred from universities to consumers, the students. Competition on the internet for the best education will reward the best educators. Period. No more lecture halls, - remodel these into study cells with computerized scheduling for any group to form or meet regularly or ad hoc to study together, to download lectures and share expenses, to tutor each other or hire tutors (graduate students then can be self supporting if they really know their stuff), to practice Socratic dialogue, to mentor, to study, to learn. Dorms can be re-imagined as studios, as housing for the elderly, for the poor! (Not just poor students). We can finally separate sports from education and let the campuses rent out all athletic facilities to leagues or individuals. Athletes will have to pay the universities, not the other way around. All those wonderful quads can be made into gardens and feed the area residents who have been feeding students. Students can achieve credits in a variety of traditional and non-traditional ways; passing competency achievement tests in knowledge areas (standardized such that excellence receives higher scores than mediocrity) portfolios peer review projects products And all the research professors did on campuses at the expense of universities, families and students? Who will pay for that? - the ones that currently pay for it - large pharmaceuticals, big corporations, federal government. And they can rent the labs and facilities from the universities. What will be left to the universities - computerized management of schedules, fees for lectures, fees for credits, matching students to tutors, maintaining records, renting facilities..... and all this can be out-sourced to the Bahamas. Mary Brenner

Friday, March 15, 2013

"Newport VT: The Last Frontier" Thursday March 21.

“Newport VT: The Last Frontier” by amateur film-maker Real Lanoue is both a movie for history-buffs and a movie for those concerned with Newport's future. Mr. Lanoue, a life-long Newport area resident, spent 3 years filming the destruction and rebuilding of the Main Street block where the state office building now stands. He frames this urban renewal project with an historical account of the rise, and demise, of Newport as a railroad town. Mr. Lanoue's sparse narration and subtle editorializing are pure Northeast Kingdom. Join us for the movie and discussion on Thursday March 21 at 6 PM in the State Conference Room, 2nd floor, Hebard Building, 100 Main St., Newport. Presented by NEK 99%. FREE.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Transportation in the Northeast Kingdom by Mary Brenner, Westfield

I have been thinking about public transportation and the lack of options in NEK. · Has anyone done a serious survey of needs – where people live, where they work · I heard about a computer based flexible car-pool/taxi idea but that would not work in an area where people do not have access to internet. · How about a survey of employers to see how many actively support car pooling · How about a public map where we ask people to put red dots on where they live and green dots on where they need to go on a regular basis (including non-working travelers who need to go to parole meetings, shopping etc.) · Jay Peak – the town of Jay had a serious discussion at town meeting day about the increased traffic on Rte 242 and the danger of frequent speeding. I talked with a friend of mine who works at Jay peak and said there is no way that the resort would pay for a shuttle from the bottom of the mountain to the resort and that the current shuttle they have is constantly back-tracking to the employee parking lot on the opposite side of the resort on the top of the mountain to the resort because employees are ‘late’ and still need a re-run to be picked up. Jay peak is purposely developing the resort so that people will not have to leave it to go outside for anything. They have a day care center, a grocery store (overpriced) and are building a medical center. The need there is not for skier transportation (thus the shuttle in Stowe which runs all day with many stops down the mountain for skiers to go to and from their hotels is not do-able here). I will work with other town’s people to promote a town-centered shuttle service for employees to take the load off the mountain road. Three people have been killed on that road recently. Unless the town pays for a cop, there is little or no speed enforcement there. · Sen. From Derby is only interested in improving road for increases in traffic on the Derby side of Newport. The completion of the causeway in Newport ( Spring maybe??) will not solve the bottleneck of one lane each way through Newport to get from east to west. Hasn’t anyone every proposed an alternative bridge (near the old railroad bridge on the south bay for example)? How about separating trucks? · I am dismayed by the regulatory restrictions on RTC and the limited number of people who can take advantage of its services as a portion of the need. As I get older I fear the day when I can no longer drive and will rely on some other form of transportation that does not exist. · What models of rural transportation are there? The low density of population works against most mass transportation models? What is there besides volunteers and taxis? Just thinking.

Friday, March 8, 2013

"Prisons for Profit" to be shown Thursday March 14 at 6 PM

THE BIGGEST PROBLEM NO ONE'S TALKING ABOUT: The Alarming Rise of Private Prisons. “Vermont, the most progressive state in America, spent over $14 million last year to lock up Vermonters in for-profit prisons like Lee adjustment Center, located in Kentucky's Daniel Boone National Forest. Private prisons like Corrections Corporation of America (CCA)'s Lee Adjustment Center offer no mental health, educational or rehabilitation services, but they do post massive corporate profits; CCA showed profits of $1.7 billion in 2011 alone.... According to southern Vermont's Rutland Herald the number of prisoners in Vermont increased at “nearly five times the national average” between 2002 and 2003....[due to] A radicalized “get tough on crime” ideology, mandatory minimums, and harsher sentencing guidelines...” ----Jonathan Leavitt, Burlington journalist and community activist. How do private prisons affect you? Have you or a loved one been sent far away from your community and family support to be warehoused in one of these southern prisons? Join us for a viewing and discussion of “Prisons for Profit” a PBS “NOW” report on Thursday March 14 at 6 PM in the State Conference Room, second floor, Hebard Building, Newport. Hosted by NEK 99%. FREE.